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Richard A. Gutstadt, P.C.
Northern California SSI & SSDI Appeals
510-992-6934

Could your social media posts cost you a disability approval?

There are people who are thoroughly convinced that thousands of people defraud the Social Security Administration (SSA) every year by claiming benefits they aren't entitled to receive.

This is despite the fact that it has become more difficult than ever to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. As of 2016, the last year for which data is available, only 22.8 percent of disability applicants could expect their claims to be approved without filing an appeal. Only a paltry 7.1 percent were approved on appeal at the reconsideration level.

It often takes a real fight -- with the applicant taking his or her claim all the way to a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) to gain approval on a claim. According to the statistics, 37.4 percent of applicants who took their claims to the hearing level were approved -- which means all of those people had to wait months or years for an approval they should have received when they initially filed.

Now, the government would like to make it even harder for disability applicants to get benefits by allowing Social Security employees the ability to peep into an applicant's social media accounts and use whatever they find there as circumstantial evidence that the applicant isn't really disabled.

Advocates for the disabled have pointed out -- somewhat futilely -- that social media posts can be deeply misleading. People often put their "best foot forward" and show a rosier picture of their lives online to others than their true reality. What's posted online is also often just a moment in time. A snapshot of someone smiling and laughing for the camera doesn't necessarily show anything of value -- or the fact that the subject of the photo was actually in a great deal of pain or distress and trying to hide it.

Take this news as a warning and guard what goes on your social media pages carefully from the moment that you begin to consider filing for SSD benefits. The wrong post could end up ruining your claim.

If you're having trouble getting approved for SSD benefits, don't try to handle an appeal on your own. Your chances are better with experienced legal advice.

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